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Parenting With an Ex-Spouse

You are contemplating or going through divorce for a reason. That generally means you will not want to be around your ex, especially soon after the divorce is final. There can simply be too much animosity or too much pain. Yet, studies show that children are better off with two active, responsible parents in their lives. Children also appreciate the feeling of family that comes with co-parenting. This means working with your ex. How can you manage?

It can be difficult. However, many divorced people report feeling glad of the effort they put into maintaining a workable time sharing parenting plan. Psychology Today offers five tips to consider that might help exes parent together:

  • Live fairly close together: You do not have to live next door, but long distances between households can make transporting the children a chore, not to mention make it harder for the children to maintain the same friends and activities.
  • Stick to a schedule: You will have to account for time with the children spent by both parents, time spent away to build new social connections, and the fact that children prefer stability. However, some flexibility will be required as circumstances change.
  • Allow for different parenting styles: Not everyone feels the same way about parenting choices. Bedtimes will not necessarily be the same at both residences, for example. Criticizing the other parent, especially in front of the children, can make matters worse than simply leaving small matters alone.
  • Accept an ex’s new relationship or spouse: The majority of divorced people remarry. Do not attempt to influence the children to not respect the new stepparent, as this can ultimately make the two households less familial to the children.
  • Use conflict resolution skills: Life constantly changes, and new homes, jobs, schedules and growing children mean occasional conflicts and the need for flexibility. You may want to include a mediation clause in your divorce agreement, for example, to provide for a clear method to resolve future differences.

Compromise and the ability to bite your tongue do not mean that you have to be a doormat. However, compromise and hard work can allow the children to grow up with both parents an active, important part of their children’s lives.